CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
Word Count: 926
Write a ficlet inspired by the following quote: "What most people don't seem to realize is that there is just as much money to be made out of the wreckage of a civilization as from the upbuilding of one… There's good money in empire building. But, there's more in empire wrecking." Rhett Butler, Gone with the Wind (Margaret Mitchell).
He had been there for nearly fifty years in the dark city of Las Vegas. Nearly half a century spent in a city that could be just as beautiful, as it could be dark, squalid, dirty and wretched. Nearly fifty years of death, pain, and torment, where he had been the viewer, and had been unable to say anything to stop it, at all. He could work, he could help, and he could aid in slowing crime, but he could not stop it. Nearly half a century in a city that would never stop eating itself alive, that would never ever stop, or slow down, at all. The city was built on crime, wealth, greed and money, and the very same things were the ones that constantly kept tearing it down. The gluttony of Las Vegas, would be the very same emotion, the very same nature, that would see it fall even further into mirrored darkness. Mirrored, because, for every crime, for every dollar spent, stolen or gambled away, the sun still seemed to shine, still seemed to illuminate beautiful gardens, pristine shopping malls, children’s playgrounds in parks rich with green grass.
Las Vegas made its money not by being a utopia for all kind, but by being the utopia for a kind that was not all that entirely pleasant. The rich, the squalid, and even the not that rich, came to the fair city, to enjoy, to sightsee, and, to undeniably, gamble. The city itself let them flirt, constantly if they wanted, with lady luck. While most people lost, just enough won to keep the hope alive that really, anyone who stepped into the doors of a casino, could come out a better, richer, man or woman. And it was sad, and it was awful, and he’d been there fifty years and he’s seen ten, maybe twentyfold, the number of lives ruined. Especially since he’d made a habit, and indeed a profession, out of seeing the scabby underbelly of the city, he noticed more upset, more mistakes and regrets than the average person did. He saw what happened, when at the end of the day, the city pressed its icy cold grip in on people, and they succumbed to it. When they did, there was the murder, the pain, the wretchedness set free, all over again, and forever, the gruesome cycle continued. He didn’t know how to stop it, could never, ever stop it, so the best he could do was keep on doing his job, to lessen the vicelike grip that crime had on people.
Las Vegas was a shining empire in the middle of the desert. Each time a part of it, no matter how tiny, was lost, it was replaced by something else, only to be knocked down again. If he was lucky, it took a while to knock the bits down, and they were quickly repaired. A shop broken into, could quickly replace its broken windows, its lost stock. If luck was not the matter, which it never was with him, anyway, then the bits of the city, the people, were easily knocked back, and were only slowly put back together. Such was the way with crime, death and mourning. A person was easy to kill, but the sadness of the people that they left behind, were difficult emotions to deal with, and were ones that became even that more unbearable when a person tried to overcome them.
He was lucky, he, Conrad Julius Ecklie, was lucky, because of one simple fact. He didn’t care. He had long lost the need to have any reasonable emotions like happiness, sadness, fear. He thrived like the city did, on personal satisfaction and on sacrifice. He had sacrificed himself to survive and become successful, and yet, what he was, was still whole, and untainted. The city had marked him, had tore his life apart, but he had not lost himself to it, had not become part of its pessimistic drudgery. He had survived what it had thrown at him, and had come out the end a better person, for all that he had witnessed and seen had indeed changed him. Even if he did, seemingly at least, function, a slight bit, like the city itself, he was not like the city at all. He was above its petty disagreements, its spinning wheels and flashing lights. While he lived there, ate there, breathed the air there, and considered himself at home there, the most important thing was, that the city had not destroyed him. After all the sadness and pain that it had brought to his door, flung at his hands, he had stood tall, stood strong, and had not fallen. He, Conrad Ecklie, would be a better man on any day of the year, than any of the drudgery the city chewed up and spat out. He would be a good man, a strong man, because, while Las Vegas roared around him, yelled of grief, fear, killing, crime, regret, gambling, he would work hard, and go home to an empty house full of empty memories. He was an empty man, who could not, would never, be affected by the city to the point of collapse. If it fell, he helped to put the pieces back together, he helped keep it going. He, Conrad Ecklie, Dayshift Supervisor, made his money, all of his money, out of the crime of a city full of wretchedness and beauty, full of killing and new life, and, really and truly, he greatly appreciated every single fucking second of it.